Who doesn't like to get an idea of what other people are using in their app listings every now and then? It's great for heating up the creative juices, staying abreast of the latest trends, and even borrowing ideas to use in your own app listing; after all, they say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery...
Today's post is a brief review that follows in this vein, like others popular posts such as the recent Google Play Feature Graphic Examples and the best practices from the top 100 app screenshots study. We'll show you 20 different screenshots, grouped by generally similar themes. Enjoy!
Screenshot-only is a style we are seeing more and more, given that real phone profiles take up room for showing more of the screenshot or for captions, yet are also common and redundant (i.e. users know that they are using an iPhone, so it adds no extra value to the screenshot; plus most apps use this style, lending no creative benefit). There are two major types of screenshot-only design, both of which are shown below.
The first style is a full-screen screenshot without any background (this is word cookies, the last screenshot). Apple's preferred screenshot type is this style, but probably without captions, because it gives the user the most accurate and objective sense of what the app is, without leading or marketing to users. We see that Word Cookies does use captions in their screenshot, overlaid on the bottom of the screenshot, along with a finger, which adds a human element. Typically captions are placed at the top of a screenshot for better visibility, but we can see that the placement here is meant not to obscure the UI, hence the caption is at the bottom.
The second style is a screenshot-only, without the phone profile, laid on top of a background. This is one of our new favorite screenshot design styles, given that it allows the user to see the screenshot/caption better, while also avoiding any on-screenshot text overlay issues. The first screenshot here is a mix of the first and second style, preferring to overlay text but also using a background.
Real Phone Screenshot
Putting a screenshot in a real phone profile with a caption on top is the reigning most common screenshot style. As a result, services such as Launchkit and others even sprang up to facilitate the creation of these real phone + captions screenshots, making this style very easy to do. Real phone screenshots typically:
- Use a partial phone profile (though our research shows that using the full phone profile works best)
- Include some differentiation of the most important words (e.g. a larger/bold font or background color)
- Try to keep text within 1 or 2 lines maximum
Real Phone Augmented Screenshot
Similar to the splash story style below, the real phone augmented style adds content to the screen, while also providing a screenshot in a real phone profile. It's a bit crowded, but if designed well and on-brand as this Baby app has done can be an enticing screenshot highly capable of grabbing attention. This Baby app hits the mark on many levels, such as:
- Hero background image that stirs emotions
- Darker photo that allows the caption to be legible
- Use case-oriented caption itself and the on-brand font choices
- Social proof badge in the bottom-left
- Straightforward in-app screen which explains what the app is well in a single image
- Even a slight rainbow strip at the top, which may catch the curious eye of people who have a keen attention to detail, which is all it takes
Bumble does a good job at really embodying the typical augmented style, which is to pop certain UI elements off of the screenshot. Crosswords With Friends also offers an interesting look into an augmented style, including a play button and some other on-brand visuals. CWF additionally opts for branding > function by using a non-functional in-app screen, which is generally less effective based on our research.
Animated Phone Screenshot
One trend rising in the App Store (and seen from time-to-time in the Play Store) is an animated screenshot, used in pace of a real phone. From our research, this phone device-style performs poorly.
Animated Phone Augmented Screenshot
Combining the animated phone design with the augmented-style begets this hybrid. This style of screenshot lends itself well to apps with a well-known brand that want maximum control over the branding in their app listing, given that the phone can be designed to fit the rest of the screenshot (or the custom product page background), which isn't possible while using a real phone.
Bumble's first screenshot depicts this dual-phone style that is seen once in a great while. The two-for-one style may earn an app points with users for giving them an extra peek into the app without having to scroll through the screenshots. And in Bumble's case, the two phones jointly demonstrate the functionality of the app better than a single screenshot could. For this reason, it's our opinion that dual-phone screenshots are under-utilized for apps whose value propositions encompass clear two-step functionality.
Bumble could do a better job disambiguating the fact that the screenshots are depicting a two-step process (not simply showing users two screenshots) by using some augmented design to clearly indicate the link between the screenshots. While they do pop out the shared friends UI element, this functionality is not related to the caption's messaging and a bit of a mismatch.
Real Image Screenshot
We found these real image-style screenshots by perusing some of the top apps across the US. They do a great job of catching attention, and while not quite representative of what users will see in the app, they nonetheless explain the outcome by depicting a real image that relates to the outcome or use case of the app, more than a traditional splash-style screenshot does. Both also include a unique augmentation element that makes the entire screenshot dynamic, such as the scanner light or the speech bubbles in Heads Up.
In our research, we uncovered a few of these "story" screenshots, which is an interesting new trend. This style takes a risk moving away from visuals (mitigated by using a smaller, transparent screenshot and another full screenshot) in favor of more explanation and storytelling. The result is a differentiation from most other screenshots, which typically favor less text, and perhaps picks up a win for these apps, by more clearly explaining their value proposition in the search impression, rather than hoping that users will make it to the description. This is definitely a style to watch and even test for apps that have a less straightforward main value proposition, use case, or even critical need to differentiate from market-leaders, like Sound Cloud here.
This app screenshot style is a very popular one in the App Store, but not the Play Store, given that screenshots show up in app store search results and thus are used to both represent what the app is all about, as well as catch users' attention.
While most splash-style screenshots skip using a screenshot entirely, here we have one example of a splash screenshot that actually includes multiple screenshots in it (for more traditional examples, check out some health and fitness apps). This is an interesting approach as it accomplishes its job of making a splash in the search results, but also offers some insight into the app itself, rather than imagery that does not appear at all inside the app. The downside is that each screenshot is hard to see, making them poor representations of the app.
Incipia is a mobile app development and marketing agency that builds and markets apps for companies, with a specialty in high-quality, stable app development and keyword-based marketing strategy, such as App Store Optimization and Apple Search Ads. For post topics, feedback or business inquiries please contact us, or send an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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